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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XH G1S / G1 (with SDI), Canon XH A1S / A1 (without SDI).

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Old December 24th, 2006, 12:13 PM   #1
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A1 New Owner, First Impressions

There are so many great features about this camera that have already been written about or are obvious. However, there are a few "con's" that make me wonder why Canon did not provide these features.

1-Viewfinder/LCD black&white selection. Great feature. However, what would be a lot more useful is the ability to independently select color or BW between the two. I'd like to use the LCD panel in color as a reference and adjust my focus and detail via BW in the viewfinder.

2- Mic/Line input selection. Another obvious one. Independent mic/line switching should be standard. I typically take one line level channel in from the house mixer and one channel as a backup from the external camera mic. Why should I have to drag around and deal with a line to mic level pad?

3-Power dial inside display backlight. Where the heck is it? Why didn't Canon provide a light like they did with the XL-1?

4-One touch AF. While this switch is protected by a little lip between it and the shutter dial, it really is hard to find/feel. Especially in the dark. If you use the shutter dial as a feel reference, you have a better chance but it's still too small.

5- Auto focus/manual focus switch. Basically the same as one touch AF. hard to feel/ find in the dark.

6-External mic holder. As posted before, the holder is way too large for any mic's that are typically used (shotgun etc...). Canon could make the opening half as wide and still provide the thumbscrew adjustment for a larger mic barrel if necessary.

7- Battery compartment/ door. I guess the jury is still out on this design. It works great but feels a bit flimsy to me. Small plastic parts. Cheap battery release lever. I'm a fearin' there's gonna be some breakage here after repeated usage.

8- Lens cap. Well, AFAIC, Sony has it. the on-board flip up lever (as on the Z1) should get a design award.

Pro's. Too many to mention. Top picks:

9-Iris ring. Fantastic feature. Very smooth.

10-Zoom speed dial located behind grip zoom. Great feature. Instant adjustment of zoom speed without going to the menu. A must for my kind of work.

11-Custom settings/card. Great feature. The camera is very customizable.

12-LCD display location. One of the features that swayed me to the A1. I was waiting and seriously considering the soon to be released Sony V1. However, When I saw where the LCD was placed on the V1, that did it. It's right in the way of your access to the vital controls behind it. It's an old body design. I think it's based on the PD-170 DVCAM.

What I would like to see from Canon. All the above and..... a way to implement the above features in a future "firmware" upgrade that would allow us to upgrade the camera feature set without having to buy a new camera.
That said, this camera is my upgrade from the GL-2. It was a good move. I am looking forward to growing my videography skills into the next level and this camera will be the perfect vehicle to do so.
David Morgan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 24th, 2006, 12:22 PM   #2
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I believe you can control the VF and LCD colour and BW seperatly. It's buried somewhere
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Old December 24th, 2006, 12:36 PM   #3
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Yeah. I LOVE that iris ring! Hated the old click-click method (XL-1).

The audio section on the XH-A1 is fairly under-documented I think. For many of us "stereo" is meaningless but two distinct channels of sound is a must. The 4 channels available on the XL's were useful to me only to easily get 2 distinct channels. Like you said, - board feed or remote mic and camera back-up.

An interesting thing to me is that the A-1 seems to have decent audio limiting built in. I'm still trying to decide if I dare eliminate my out-board pre-amp and compressor/limiter to line-in on manual, - or go with 100' of XLR into the phantomed mic-in on auto. Both work OK for me.
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Old December 24th, 2006, 12:45 PM   #4
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Yep. I didn't mention the lack of limiters on the XLR imputs. (another Sony feature). It's basically one less thing to deal with under the gun. However, I note that Canon does seem to be weak in the audio department. Then again, any pre-amp limiter design can be a detriment if it introduces obvious artifacts.

Matthew, wish you were right about the B & W choice for LCD and viewfinder. I wish someone would prove me wrong.

BTW, another nice feature of the sony Z1 are the multiple custom keys on the body. I could really use more than 2.
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